A personal favorite of ours is the Bulgarian band ORENDA (Official), formed in 1999 as Bleeding Black before switching names in 2004. This particular 2007 album, ‘The Funeral,’ was picked up at Neseblod Records (previously Helvete) in Oslo, Norway.
Tag Archives: Black Metal
𝕬𝖉 𝕱𝖎𝖓𝖊𝖒 𝕺𝖒𝖓𝖎𝖆
Born out of Chile’s Sol Sistere, black metal duo Ad Finem Omnia released their first demo entitled ‘Demo MMXX’ and single “Abolish God” this year, available on their Bandcamp.
PABM and the REVIVAL of black metal on the east coast
Hidden in South Eastern Pennsylvania is an up and coming distributor, Pennsylvania Black Metal, or PABM for short. I spoke with one of the masterminds behind this about the genre and what this young organisation will do to carry on the torch.
What does black metal stand for to you?
Black Metal to us primarily represents complete, resolute rejection of the present state of humanity and culture. Further, Black Metal will always stand for the glorification of darkness, hatred, all that lies beyond the realm of our feeble enlightenment.
What has inspired the creation of PABM?
The Pennsylvania Black Metal cult was unified under a shared militant devotion to developing our craft, and a desire to build ourselves a platform to release as many of our projects as possible, on our own terms. The PABM sigil which emblazons the physical materials we produce has come encompass our intention to unify and align the very sparse scene of PA Black Metal musicians who identify with these principles.
Do you believe that black metal is becoming more mainstream or is the underground holding its own?
The Black Metal “scene” as a whole is of course full of frauds, theives, and clowns, but the underground retains a guard over the flames of tradition. The self-operated network of dedicated underground musicians, labels, and supporters is more than enough to keep real Black Metal lurking perpetually in the shadows for those worthy. The insularity of the true underground serves its function well.
Do depictions of black metal in popular culture impact you in a positive or negative way?
The perception of Black Metal in the eyes of the public is of no concern to us, but I can say that we consider both an outsider OR a traitor’s attempt to “capture” some editorially packaged semblance of Black Metal for the purpose of entertainment or education of the general public to be completely repulsive. Fuck your documentaries, fuck your movies, fuck your articles, FUCK OFF!!!
Cancellations seem to go hand in hand with black metal nowadays. Has this affected you at all?
Until recently, we had remained unscathed by bullshit, and we reject participating in any sort of inter-scene politicking, but recently we’ve had run-ins with censorship- or perhaps more accurately, misguided logistics and hesitant venue owners. We do not believe that Black Metal should expect a place or acceptance in mainstream or even “alternative” culture, nor should it want such. Underground Black Metal needs pull away from its reliance on social media, established venues, and parallel local scenes to facilitate gigs. Black Metal ought to operate proudly from the shadows.
Where do you hope to take the label?
At the moment, we are in the process of dubbing and distributing our first batch of PABM tapes, featuring the projects of the founding members of the group- Goathex, Silvanthrone and Trist Død, plus a side project called Deceashost. We are also working on the second batch of releases, featuring new material from the aforementioned projects, plus demos from new side projects and allied forces around the state. In the longer term, we hope to begin booking gigs, build our newsletter into a zine, and generally work to establish PA as a stronghold for blasphemy on the East Coast.
For more information, contact PABM.EVIL@GMAIL.COM to inquire/join the newsletter, and keep an eye on pennsylvaniablackmetal.bigcartel.com
Staff Album Picks Of 2019
Recommendations By Rebecca
Artist: Arnaut Pavle | Album: Arnaut Pavle
Formed in Finland during 2012, Arnaut Pavle do not have an extensive repertoire, yet their few works are powerful enough to stand on their own, even with a six year gap in between. Lovingly compared to the likes of Darkthrone and Craft, Arnaut Pavle seamlessly weave speedy, punkish elements throughout this self titled full length album – coming in at just under half an hour. Specific elements of both their online presence and formation are left vague, giving them an additional dash of ambiguity that can not be ignored.
Mysterious contributors aside, some skeptics may ponder the difference between this release versus their 2013 demo – and it is minimal. Arnaut Pavle‘s focus may be on perfection versus evolution, which depending upon your preference, is the least of your worries. If you find yourself longing for the days of old, raw, thrashy black metal, Arnaut Pavle will fit nicely into your music reserve. This album along with their, also self titled, demo can be found through label Mystískaos.
Recommended Songs: Unholy Black Balsam, Crematory Gates, For the Darkness of Our Hearts
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Artist: Barshasketh | Album: Barshasketh
Originally formed as a solo project by Krigeist in Wellington, New Zealand, Barshasketh have since relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland and rounded out a complete lineup. Since their formation in 2007, they have released four full length albums, their latest, self titled “Barshasketh,” in January of 2019. Barshasketh‘s intention is to “create pure black metal, intentionally free of genre cross-pollination: essentially, second-wave black metal re-imagined and reinterpreted through extensive use of layering and counterpoint.” And they do just that.
Teaming up with infamous Necromorbus Studio (Watain, Mayhem, Shining) in Stockholm, Sweden for recording, mixing, mastering and production, both their third full length album “Ophidian Henosis” and this fourth self titled album “Barshasketh” were released by World Terror Committee Productions, proving a “milestone in the history of the band.”
Barshasketh recently performed at SteelChaos 2019 in Helsinki, Finland and needless to say, they were the one band that were etched in memory. Not only can they deliver on record, their live performance was even tighter – compelling, inspiring and authentic. I anticipate Barshasketh to continue their ascent to greatness and urge you to take the time to discover their discography, demos and all. If you find yourself with the opportunity to catch them live, do so. Without question.
Recommended Songs: Resolve, Rebirth, Ruin I
Follow Barshasketh on:
Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify
Recommendations By Pelle
Artist: Myronath | Album: Into The Qliphoth
Myronath, hailing from the northern parts of Sweden, did what most bands do – they first released a single before releasing the full album and when I was presented the single “La Santa Muerte” by Hellcommander Vargblod (bass, vocals) it blew me away with its hunger and a new take on the old melodic black metal theme. When the album was released, it was no disappointment. The songwriting and arrangements are good, the songs heavy and the vocals are grim and recorded with a “crispiness” that give the songs an extra dimension. This is a very dark and atmospheric album, covering the subjects of the Left-Hand Path and occultism. When a debut album sounds this good, I can’t wait to hear what they will do next. The album is great, but it is still the first single that is my absolute favorite track and actually made the number 1 of my most played songs on Spotify 2019.
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Artist: Mephorash | Album: Shem Ha Mephorash
This is the fourth release from Swedish black metal band Mephorash. “Shem Ha Mephorash,” which meaning is “the explicit name” in Jewish mysticism, centers around exactly that – mysticism. The whole album is like a long ritual and I absolutely love it. The shortest song is about 6:30 and the longest one clocks in on just over 15 minutes, which gives plenty of room for the band to be creative which they have. Some songs are slower, like “Sanguinem,” others are faster. But just because a song is a bit slower it doesn’t mean that isn’t heavy as fuck. Haunting melodic guitars, powerful vocals, sometimes mixed with a beautiful, clean female voice make this song and album an absolute killer.
Another favorite song is “777: The Third Woe” which begins with trumpets which shows the complexity and ingenuity this album and band possesses.
All of the above combined make me chose this release as my album of the year.
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Bandcamp | Facebook | Website | YouTube
Recommendations By Armando
Artist: Kampfar | Album: Ofidians Manifest
After a hiatus of a year due to several reasons, the black metal force that is Kampfar returned to the live scene and they returned with force. A modern lesson in what “True Norwegian Black Metal” means nowadays. Amongst so many bands trying to nail this sound, now regarded as a classic, Kampfar managed to rejuvenate it and take it to the next level.
Picking up where their last album “Profan” left off, the newest addition to the ever-growing legacy was named “Ofidans Manifest,” in reference to the madness that the album itself encompasses. This however stands out even more than the previous offering due to the sheer emotion the tracks manage to convey upon the listeners.
From brilliant semi-clean singing on “Det Sorte” to bone-chilling choruses on “Ophidian,” even a daring duet on “Dominans” with the Norwegian band Djerv’s Agnete Kjølsrud. This record ticks all the boxes of fans of old school Norwegian black metal as envisioned by musicians back in the nineties. But it also shows that black metal is alive and kicking harder than it ever has!
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Artist: Imha Tarikat | Album: Kara Ihlas
What would it sound like when Polish black metal masters MGŁA had a love baby with Canada’s war metal monsters Revenge and that concoction would spawn forth a record that was well produced but chaotic in its very nature? The result would be Imha Tarikat’s first full length offering “Kara Ihlas.”
A young band in a scene that has its roots firmly positioned in the late eighties and early nineties, where tradition seems to be law and where newcomers are looked upon as less important than the old stalwarts. How does one stand out in such a environment? Exactly by doing what Imha Tarikat does, playing extremely aggressive and fast black metal with brilliant variety in chaos and melody.
Imha Tarikat is a band that should be looked out for, they are already paving the way to greatness for themselves and it shows. They had the great honor and behemoth of a task of opening for the black metal titans of Watain at this year’s prestigious Beyond The Gates festival in Bergen, Norway which they did with flying colors. Be wary of Imha Tarikat and surely pay attention to their next move!
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Artist: Schammasch | Album: Hearts Of No Light
The latest offering from Switzerland’s Schammasch is not just an avant-garde black metal record, it is an assault on the senses of the listener. Where the last album “Triangle” still could be considered as a somewhat traditional approach to the extreme music that is black metal, the new “Hearts Of No Light” rebels against all restrictions and forcefully shows what madness sounds like when it is poured into some of the best music this decade has offered us.
The biggest shock on this album is probably “A Paradigm Of Beauty,” brilliant in it’s execution but everything except what the listener is expecting. Offering a view of many facets of extreme metal but sometimes also touching on prog-metal makes sure that “Hearts Of No Light” never gets boring. It’s impossible for the listener to know what is next because expectations are constantly denied by introducing complex new passages in the music.
Schammasch has once again, as the band did before, shown that they truly belong to the new wave of European bands that will lift black metal out of the strangling restrictions in order to create a new sound. A sound that will be heard around the world, this new sound is ushered in their latest offering “Hearts Of No Light.” Now go, set aside your convictions about what black metal should be, and hear what black metal could be!
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Bandcamp | Facebook | Website | Instagram | Soundcloud | Spotify | YouTube
Recommendations By Nicholas
Artist: Borknagar | Album: True North
One of the most vibrant, restless bastions of prog-infused blackened metal might, Borknagar once again knock it out of the park with the majestic “True North.” Replete with mountain-peak choruses from the unrivaled vocal tandem of ICS Vortex and Lars Nedland, these Norwegians have been riding a creative high over the course of their last clutch of albums. Never overly complex, band founder Øystein Brun manages to layer every song with emotion and depth, yet still create a diverse and endlessly rewarding listen. According to this scribe, there was no finer album released in calendar year 2019.
Recommended Songs: True North, Lights, Tidal, Voices
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Bandcamp | Facebook | Website | Instagram | Spotify | Twitter | YouTube
Artist: The Meads Of Asphodel | Album: Running Out Of Time Doing Nothing
Always criminally underrated, English punk black metal outliers The Meads Of Asphodel have once more created a madcap palette of sounds that when listed separately, seem like they would want nothing to do with each other. Black metal, punk, traditional metal, show tune vocal arrangements, soundtrack psychedelia, lounge piano, female vocals, pop and dance beats – when considered apart these elements might seem insuperable, but when focused through the lens of Metatron and company, what you have is a magnificently cohesive album like nothing else you will hear in 2019. Scathing social commentary, rebellious English attitude and a stubborn lack of adherence to genre expectations; put it all together and you have one of the finest releases of 2019.
Recommended Songs: I’m Running Out of Time Doing Nothing, Cockroach Marionettes, Like Blood Shaped Flakes of Snow, The Broken Wings of a Hud-Hud
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Bandcamp | Facebook | Website | Spotify | YouTube
Artist: Mayhem | Album: Daemon
There are probably a lot of people out there who didn’t think they had it in them, but the promises of a stable and hungry Mayhem lineup have come to rotten fruition on new album “Daemon.” Stylistically a worthy follow up to the peerless classic “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,” this new slab of darkness is bolstered by the stygian otherness of Attila Csihar’s throat and a marked return to the unrestrained malice of yore. Hellhammer’s drums thunder in cavernous splendor and each song keeps the boot firmly on the listener’s neck. The riffs are straight black metal, no frills, no filler. Just turn it up to eleven and burn your local church.
Recommended Songs: Malum, Falsified and Hated, Worthless Abominations Destroyed, Black Glass Communion
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Recommendations By Geoff
Artist: Deathspell Omega | Album: The Furnaces Of Palingenesia
Chaotic. Dark. Contemptuous. The same words can apply to each insidious Deathspell Omega album. The French black metal carved out their niche over a decade ago, and each new release is instantly recognizable as theirs. With their seventh full-length album, Deathspell Omega continues to meet the high bar they’ve set for themselves. “The Furnaces Of Palingenesia” is a little more straightforward compared to the dense layers of earlier albums, with added warmth from analog recording gear. Gone are the 10-minute epics from “Kenose” and “Fas Ite;” the longest song here is 5 and a half minutes. The album is something new while remaining true to the trademark Deathspell Omega sound. This won’t disappoint old fans. For those new to the band, their rumbling avant-garde style might take some getting used to.
Recommended Songs: The Fires of Frustration, Ad Arma! Ad Arma!
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Artist: Drofnosura | Album: Voidfever
“Voidfever” has a bleakness few bands would dare to match. If one described this album in a single phrase, it’d be “existential dread.” The album is likely best classified as sludge, although it uses elements from metal’s darkest genres so things aren’t clear-cut. Eye-popping album art shows what people are getting. It’s less about categories than atmosphere. “False Womb” is the least metal song with strong ambient and post-rock influences. Continuing this, the final track “Voidfever” is a calm slow burn for 10 minutes, until the metal returns for the final third of the song. Drofnosura could’ve gone harder in the final minutes, but it’s fine. What’s most impressive overall is that it’s a debut. “Voidfever” is a surprisingly polished effort from a band who knows what their sound evokes. They took their time to get things right. It’s a shame this flew under the radar and only a handful of reviewers took on the album.
Recommended Songs: Tower of Waves, Panzón de Borrego
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Recommendations By Nikki
Artist: Obsequiae | Album: The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings
20 Buck Spin has been a roll lately, with many good releases in 2019. One of such is “The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings” by Minnesota’s Obsequiae. Formerly Autumnal Winds, Obsequiae plays a unique style of medieval black metal filled with melodies that would not be out of place at your local renaissance fair. “The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings” features 12 tracks, 5 of which being instrumental interludes that take you into the halls of kings and queens, while the other tracks take you to war defending them on your sword. But that’s not the best thing about this album. Obsequiae decided to release the album only digitally with all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders and what’s cooler than listening to metal and supporting a great cause?
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Artist: Véhémence | Album: Par Le Sang Versé
Hailing from Angers, France, Véhémence puts a unique spell on a tried genre who has seen it all. At first glance, the cover art reminds the listener of days of yore, a tapestry of French history. Eight tracks full of hymns of wars, of battle and the ideals that shaped France are lovingly woven into “Par Le Sang Versé,” the second album by Véhémence.
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Artist: Hanging Garden | Album: Into That Good Night
Into that good night and into a trip of Finnish melancholy and despair. With the follow up to 2017’s “I Am Become,” Hanging Garden has emerged as one of the best in melodic doom/death metal. Featuring clean and smooth vocals from Riikka Hatakka and majestic growls from Tomi Toivonen, “Into That Good Night” is a lovely blend of sorrow, doom, post-rock and melody.
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Bandcamp | Facebook | Website | Instagram | Soundcloud | Spotify | Twitter
Recommendations By Crystal
Artist: Andavald | Album: Undir Skyggðarhaldi
This was the debut release from Iceland’s Andavald. This album is a modern take on black metal and is a good representation of where outlying music genres are headed. Atmospheric and dissonant, recommended for fans of Leviathan and Craft.
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Bandcamp | Instagram | Website
Artist: Vothana | Album: Không Bao Giờ Nộp / Never To Submit
From the band Vothana, which has no participation in any sort of online social media. Many black metal bands cover war history, but none other come to mind when it comes to Vietnam. It is wonderful to still hear such raw aggression being carried out today in such a unique way while still holding roots in the genre’s origins. Dark and foreboding, just like war itself.
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Artist: Misþyrming | Album: Algleymi
Another band that is fairly new to black metal is Misþyrming, which I had high hopes for their follow up after their first release in 2015. Another stronghold for keeping the genre alive, I would rank among MGŁA and UADA. All elements of this album blend together for a nice atmosphere, and production is just right for the listening experience. This album does not push limits too far in experimentation, but manages to be a welcome familiarity that does not get boring after being on heavy rotation.
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Recommendations By Danny
Artist: Kaleikr | Album: Heart Of Lead
Kaleikr are an Icelandic black metal band with emotionally driven dissonant riffs and plenty of hauntingly dark and atmospheric moments. This is an awesome debut with high replay value from this two-piece duo.
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Artist: Vukari | Album: Aevum
Aggressive and relentless yet beautifully constructed Vukari combines black metal with some sick vocals, drumming and atmosphere. Well done to this 4-piece based out of Chicago!
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Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud | Spotify | YouTube
Artists: Skáphe / Wormlust | Album: Kosmískur Hryllingur
I always enjoy when bands collaborate on a project to experiment. You never know what to expect but these two well respected Icelandic black metal bands definitely delivered. This album is a pummeling yet trippy ride, so buckle up.
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Artist: Numenorean | Album: Adore
Numenorean are a black gaze/post-black Canadian based band, dishing out this sophomore release which delivers some very well executed build-ups leading to tasty payoffs within tracks.
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Artist: Aoratos | Album: Gods Without Names
Naas Alcameth of Nightbringer and Akhlys returns in the form of Aoratos to deliver this amazingly dissonant and sinister project. Do not pass up on this crushing and relentless black metal release.
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Recommendations By Justina
Artist: Ossuarium | Album: Living Tomb
Straight out of Portland, Oregon, Ossuarium formed in 2016. They released their first demo November 6, 2016 titled “Calcified Trophies Of Violence” on an independent label and cassette. Followed by a split album with Draghkar in 2018, their debut album titled “Living Tomb,” was released this year in February 2019 via 20 Buck Spin Records. Ossuarium are part of the new wave of old school death metal bands and are often compared to Autopsy, Tomb Mold, Incantation and Coffins.
“Living Tomb” is a powerful album that brings the old school riffs to the listeners ears, but also has that new wave punch to it. I highly recommend this album to anyone who loves the old school sound. Ossuarium’s blend of death and doom metal leans more towards the old-school death metal crowd. The atmosphere leaves you wanting to hear more from these guys after the last note ends.
Recommended Songs: Corrosive Hallucinations, End of Life Dreams and Visions Pt. 2, Blaze of Bodies
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Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram
Artist: Paganizer | Album: The Tower Of The Morbid
Rogga Johansson is the mastermind behind many bands. Some of them include Down Among The Dead Men, MegaScavenger, Revolting, Ribspreader and The Grotesquery. But his main and most well known band Paganizer released a mammoth of a album this year in October. “The Tower Of The Morbid” features Matthias Feiberg (Blodsrit/Portal) on drums, Martin Klasen on bass, Kjetil Lynghaug on guitars and Mr. Rogga Johansson himself on guitars and vocals and was released on Transcending Death Records. The last few releases from Paganizer have been stellar, but this one stands out to me as one of the best this year and one of the best in Roggas career yet. Keeping that classic HM2 guitar sound, while keeping that deathrasy vibes at the same time. The riffs do not stop and keep chugging at you.
Recommended Songs: Cannibal Remains, The Tower of the Morbid, Flesh Tornado
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Recommendations By Thomas
Artist: Entrails | Album: Rise Of The Reaper
Formed in 1990 in Sweden, Entrails continue to serve awesome dirty, grunting noise without mercy. I really can’t get enough of it!
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Bandcamp | Facebook | Spotify | YouTube
Artist: Cattle Decapitation | Album: Death Atlas
I love the verity of the United States based Cattle Decapitation. They are excellent musicians! Together they deliver a real punch. It is speed with a great twist. I can’t pick out any favorites – I like the whole damn thing!
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Bandcamp | Facebook | Website | Instagram | Spotify | Twitter | YouTube
Artist: Rotting Christ | Album: The Heretics
This chanting take on black metal by Rotting Christ is absolute brilliance.
Recommended Songs: I Believe, Vetry Zlye
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CANIS DIRUS – Perseverance Of The Wolf
As the years decay it becomes more and more apparent that although ferocious black metal may have arisen in the icy north of Europe, it has indeed ripened in other locales. Consider the two-man battery that is Canis Dirus. Hailing from Minnesota, a region of the United States akin to any and all northern winter-scapes, the partnership of Todd Paulson (all instruments) and Rob Hames (vocals) bears fruit once more with their first studio album in eight years. Independence to the Beast, set for release in March of 2020 via the peerless Bindrune Recordings label, looks to not only reaffirm the foothold Canis Dirus has on the American black metal frontier, but as the all-important third album, it seeks to take the band to the next level.
Recently, Descension Promotions was treated to an exclusive first look at the sonic achievement that is Independence to the Beast, along with an opportunity to convene with the earnest and humble Paulson for a deeper analysis of his art. The first and most obvious topic to be discussed was the long time between creations. Canis Dirus bestowed their first two albums in 2009 and 2012, respectively, building some momentum and helping make a name for themselves. Just as American black metal was enjoying notoriety from the likes of a burgeoning crop of bands, the progress of the band would be forced to a complete halt.
A silence lasting more than half a decade was the last thing Paulson, Hames, and their fans were expecting. As it turns out, Paulson would be facing the biggest, most heart wrenching challenge of his life. What was it exactly that caused this driven artist to abandon his pursuits, and how did he know it was time to return to Canis Dirus?
“Seven years, well eight technically, since the new album is scheduled for release in March of 2020. In order to properly answer that question,” he elaborates. “We will need to go back to 2012, when our last album for Moribund Records, Anden Om Norr, was released. About two or three months later, my first son was born. He was about six weeks premature, and my wife had a horrible pregnancy and birth. Needless to say we didn’t get to take him home with us. He had a long hospital stay, since he needed to grow his lungs and build up endurance to be able to breastfeed. Well, he wasn’t thriving as we had hoped, and the doctors were pretty baffled. When we finally did get to take him home, he was still a little sick. They had given us meds that they thought would help, but he still struggled to eat, keep down food, and ultimately grow.
“One afternoon when he was roughly three months old, I had given him a bottle and when he finally struggled through finishing that, he literally stopped breathing and turned blue in my arms. It was devastating. He began to start breathing again, but we rushed him into the trauma bay of the hospital. There he quit breathing again and had to be intubated. That is when they placed my son on full life support. My wife and I stood by helplessly as about ten doctors and nurses worked on him to keep him alive.
“We were confused, to say the least, but even worse, so were the doctors. They took a blood sugar reading and it was a seven. They thought the machine was broken, but after a retest his glucose reading still showed seven! Scary fucking shit, man, as this was the lowest such reading recorded on any living patient at that facility.
“Everything just shut down. He was in full liver and kidney failure. Heart failure. Couldn’t maintain his blood sugar levels. He was in hypothermia. Remember, at this time the kid was only three months old. So, without doing into a ton more detail, I’ll say that he was finally diagnosed with an extremely rare congenital condition called panhypopituitarism. It’s a condition where a person is born without a pituitary gland. It apparently only happens in one in every 450,000 live births. Without a pituitary gland, my son could not produce the proper hormones, particularly cortisol, that he needs to survive. At 3 months old, he had contracted a simple chest cold, but because of the lack of cortisol, his body began to shut down.
“I know this is a lot to take in but believe me that was just setting the table for what was to come. In the interest of trying to be brief, I’ll say that for whatever reason, the PHP wasn’t the only congenital condition that he ended up with. Over the course of the next six years, it was pretty much one diagnosis after the next. It got to the point where we were afraid to take him to his doctor appointments for fear of finding something else out.
“As you can probably imagine, I endured a whole host of mental trauma dealing with my son’s fragile health. When he was about a year old, I simply put all of my guitars in their cases and put away all of my gear. Six years passed and I never picked up an instrument. Never had any desire. Life was just way too much to deal with and all of these emotions, such as grief, anger, fear, confusion, resentment, rage, et cetera, were taking a huge toll on me and they started to manifest themselves in some extremely destructive ways.
“During this time, Rob (Hames) and I would briefly talk about the future, or perhaps the end of Canis Dirus. He’s been incredibly patient and understanding and he’s always just told me that whatever decision is made is the decision that he would respect. In the back of my own mind, I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that we were done. My son and his wellbeing were far more important than this. But, in 2018, something happened. Four very specific things, in fact. My son had to have three separate brain surgeries, as well as open heart surgery. Once he was on his way to recovery, he started to feel great and his health began to stabilize. This afforded me more time, so Rob and I began to talk seriously about at least trying to work on new material for Canis Dirus. I began putting ideas down on paper and purchased a few new pieces of equipment to help the recording process go a little smoother.
Then in January of 2019, I finally sat down to start the process of composing riffs and ideas that I had in my head. At first, it was a little bit of a struggle due to not having played in such a long period of time. But then, one day during the writing and recording process, it was like a switch had been turned and all of these fucked up emotions that I had been internalizing came flooding out of me in the form of this new music. It was like this huge release. It was so fucking cathartic and beautiful!”
Healthy and thriving child births are one of those things Americans take for granted, so when something that is supposed to be so wonderful turns into a nightmare, music is probably the last thing any of us would be thinking about. And yet, music is there for us when these dark nights pass. Following this calamity, Paulson is eager to tell us how Independence to the Beast came together. “Once we got into a nice groove, a lot of the writing just came naturally. I told Rob (Hames – vocals) right from the start that most of these songs, in terms of the music and arrangements, are going to be directly tied to my experiences with my son over the past six years. He was obviously very understanding of that. But when it comes to lyrics, he can’t live out my life through his writing, nor would I expect him to, so on some of the songs where I wrote the music, he wrote the words. There exists a bit of a dichotomy there, where the meaning behind the song in my own head is quite different from that in Rob’s. Since these songs have much more personal weight to them, we felt that it was important for Rob to match his vocal style with whatever type of emotion the song was trying to convey. I think he did a really good job.
At times a muted shriek, at others an unhinged howl reminiscent of Jan Transeth’s performance on the first In The Woods… album Heart of the Ages, Hames certainly conducts a wrenching electricity through the compositions on the album. Independence to the Beast manages to capture a blistering, cold black metal atmosphere, templated as such but synthesized with a host of moods and forays into ambient, noise, doom, and even further elements of sound. Paulson shed some light on how they managed to navigate those transitions within their songs so seamlessly.
“That’s a great question and my honest answer is simply that I don’t know. I’ve never truly been comfortable with my skill level as a songwriter and with that, its those transitions that you speak of that have always tripped me up in the past. I’ve not had time to analyze it, but perhaps the fact that I sort of let my emotions take over as opposed to sitting down and being more cold or analytical helped out.”
The range of Paulson’s emotions shade sweltering album closer “Unyielding” in a torrent of varied expression. Beginning as a hard-as-nails head-banger of a tune, things soon tread into acoustic realms, before becoming altogether unsettling in a haze of noisy ambience. One can only imagine how the rage, the love, and the uncertainty of such feelings might manifest. To tie in Hames’ lyrics, “Unyielding” is accompanied by a Nietzche quote, but one that hasn’t been used a thousand times over. While the music may be an exhalation of Paulson’s own suffering, the subject matter of the lyric suggests concern more with the ruinous lurch of humankind towards a self-made doom, as opposed to any sort of superstitious or occult preoccupation. Paulson expands. “Thanks for picking up on that! Again, where it pertains to Rob’s lyrics, he sort of has his own interpretation of what themes or concepts should be used and he bases that off of a feeling he gets while absorbing the music. I will say this though. Canis Dirus is not and never will be one of those bands that gets too deep into political issues. Having said that, Rob felt “Unyielding” to be an instance where we can perhaps give a slight commentary on the utter buffoonery that we as a human race display. It seems more people are finally coming around to the fact that climate change is a real thing and it needs to be dealt with. These people just put their heads in the sand and act as if its not their problem. Its complete insanity. So it’s this continued encroachment on our natural world, our forests and the landscape that is the inspiration behind the song as well as the Nietzche quote. The capitalists and the one percenters are unyielding in their pursuit to damage the earth even further without much thought into what it means for future generations.”
Quite difficult to argue with such notions, no matter where one stands. Overall, the themes of anger, outrage, isolation, and longing which comprise Independence to the Beast shine through, be it in the slow burn of opener “We are the Ancient Ones,” with its roaring, shrieking vocal and repeating riffage, or the harrowing, psychedelic journey that is “The Child & The Serpent.”
One of the biggest strengths of the album is its varied moods. Like the seasons, it doesn’t sit still. And in much the same way returning to a forested path can reveal different secrets to the observer at different times, repeated listens of Independence to the Beast can distill different impressions. The calm of spoken-word solace on “To Cast the Runes” gives over to the unbridled ferocity of “Extreme Might of Resolve,” pulling the listener along into darkness. Soaring keys underpin desperate screams, evoking shades of the old guard of symphonic black metal bands (before they tried to go all movie soundtrack on us), until coalescing screams and driving blasts resolve into one of the more straight-up true heavy metal moments this side of Fenriz. Wolves howling; a rockin’ bit of soloing – for sure an album highlight that has it all.
With such exciting songs ready for that late-winter 2020 release, the question is begged: What can fans expect from a rejuvenated Canis Dirus?
“In addition to releasing Independence to the Beast in late February, early March of 2020, we are currently finishing up two songs for a split release with our friends When Bitter Spring Sleeps. The details of this release are still being worked out, but we’re already demoing some songs and arrangements for our next full-length album. I promise it won’t be another eight years!”
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